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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 17, 2020 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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american heart for the gold. text rudy to 65532. >> that's what you call pure tv gold right there. smoke them if you've got them. and for all your cigar and gold continue needs tell them rudy sent you. that's also our broadcast for this thursday night with our thanks for joining ounce behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of nbc news, good night. for the first time ever, which is almost unbelievable but it's true. for the first time ever, a native american is going to be a cabinet secretary in the united states. deb haaland's mother was a navy veteran, a native american woman, a citizen of the laguna pueblo. her father was a norwegian-american and an active duty marine. deb haaland went to 13 different public schools before graduating from high school. she put herself through college. she put herself through law
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school. she went on to become the head of the democratic party in the great state of new mexico. while she was head of the democratic party in that state, she helped flip that state to democratic control in the legislature. deb haaland ran for congress herself in 2018. she was able to run as, in her words, a 35th generation new mexican. 35 generations of her family. she won that race. she and sharice davids from kansas became the first two native american women ever elected to congress, both elected in the same year. deb haaland has been a very high-profile and sort of instantly effective member of congress since she got there. she was vice chair of the natural resources committee as a freshman. she was chair of the subcommittee on public lands. now as interior secretary in the biden administration, deb haaland will be in charge of public lands federally as well as in charge of all the agencies that the -- the federal agencies that exert so much almost unimaginable amounts of power over the lives of native americans, including, of course, the bureau of indian affairs.
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nominating deb haaland to be interior secretary, nominating the first ever native american to the cabinet is a big deal. that is a milestone, a historic milestone for us as a country. you think about the sweep of us as a nation. that said, in much smaller terms, that nomination is also giving democrats in the house a little shiver appear alongside any burst of pride they may feel about this nomination, one of their own nominated to the cabinet. the shiver of fear is because the democrats' majority in the house is so small, it's just a few seats and one of these seats will now be vacated by deb haaland, and democrats really must hold on to that seat in order to keep control of the house. worth watching. the president-elect joe biden also today named michael regan to run the environmental protection agency. michael regan has had the top environmental job in the great
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state of north carolina since democrats took control of the state government there. we spent a long time on this show -- if you're a longtime viewer of this show, you will remember our sort of intense coverage of how nutball environmental stuff was in north carolina under the republican governor who was in office there until recently. literally under the previous republican governor of north carolina, they had a chief environmental officer for the whole state who said that he thought that maybe oil was a renewable resource. he didn't believe it was a fossil fuel. in fact, he wasn't sure he believed in fossils. he believed that the way we got oil is that there were like little keebler elves somewhere working away to make new oil every day so you could get it fresh. no need to conserve. no need to not just burn off all of it that you can get your hands on because the elves make more every day? that's not how oil works. michael regan came in there as
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the top environmental officer in north carolina after the republican governor was voted out, and so statewide officials such as the state environmental officer turned over to democratic control. mr. regan had to manage the handling almost instantly of one of the worst environmental disasters in the country which had come to a head under the previous administration. this toxic mess of coal ash pits and coal ash spills all over that beautiful state. now michael regan will leave north carolina and he will come to washington to run the joe biden epa. godspeed to him. think about it. in his last job, mr. regan's job was to clean up the mess left by a duke energy lobbyist who was the governor of north carolina. now he's going to have to clean up after a coal industry lobbyist who is the outgoing trump epa guy. mr. regan will need all the help that he can get, but he has been named as joe biden's choice to run the epa as of today. we also got word today that
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somebody tapped as a senior white house official for the incoming biden administration, cedric richmond, congressman from louisiana, he has just tested positive for covid. congressman richmond is reportedly having symptoms from the disease. we wish him of course all the best. he is isolating. the biden transition says that mr. richmond was not medically a close contact of president-elect biden, so biden himself will not have to quarantine due to congressman richmond's diagnosis. but i think, if i'm counting correctly, i think that this announcement about cedric richmond makes him the fifth member of congress, the fifth member of the house of representatives to test positive for coronavirus just this week, and it's still only thursday. four republicans -- mike rogers of alabama, joe wilson of south carolina. remember him, the "you lie" guy. barry loudermilk of georgia, ken calvert of california. those four republican members of congress all testing positive for covid this week. now cedric richmond of louisiana as well. all this week, members of
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congress this week at least are testing positive at a rate of more than one per day. we also learned today that outgoing interior secretary, the trump interior secretary who is likely to be replaced by deb haaland, secretary david bernhardt has also tested positive for covid. and of course secretary of state mike pompeo is still in quarantine after covid exposure. tomorrow morning we are expecting public on-camera vaccinations for vice president mike pence, for his wife karen pence, and for the surgeon general, jerome adams, who has been pretty invisible over the course of this pandemic, which is too bad. all three of them will get vaccinations publicly and on camera to encourage all americans to do the same, to show confidence in the vaccine and in the process. good for them for doing that. that's an important part of modeling good public health behavior around the rollout of the vaccine. that's great.
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but it does bring us to our main lead story tonight, which is one that i was really hoping to not have to do. this week we've seen the death tolls rise to previously unseen numbers. we have seen the case numbers continue to rise to previously unseen numbers, and the hospitalization numbers, it has been terrible. and also we have had this hope, right? we have also seen what you're seeing on your screen right now. seeing americans start to get the first shots of the pfizer vaccine this week has been such a tonic to the soul even as all of the other covid news has been so terrible. seeing these pictures like this, it still makes me tear up. we have been through so much this year, and there has been, you know, nothing good at all, right? it's just been death and dread and terrible thing after terrible thing and losing hundreds of thousands of americans in less than a year. feeling hopeful at last because of the vaccine, seeing it go into health workers' arms, it's warranted to feel that hope. it is wonderful actually to feel that hope.
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it feels like the first little bit of relief. and there is nothing that appears to be wrong with the vaccine itself, which is fantastic news. and in fact, tonight the expert panel that advises the fda on vaccine safety, tonight they voted 20 to nothing. there was one abstention, but the vote was 20 yes to zero noes to advise the fda that the second coronavirus vaccine, the one made by moderna in conjunction with the nih, that vaccine should be approved as well. that approval from the fda may happen as soon as tomorrow, which means the moderna vaccine will start shipping in the next few days. that should be getting into arms as early as the beginning of next week, and that is fantastic. you know, if there's one thing better than a vaccine to keep you alive in a deadly global pandemic, if there's one thing better than a vaccine, it's two vaccines. so that is -- that is all great news. but remember that front page headline from a couple days ago in "the washington post"? we put it up on the show. this was the morning after the first vaccine doses went out.
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this headline was so good. "disparaged by trump, scientists deliver." and it is plainly true, right? scientists and science did deliver in terms of getting us vaccines. but now, tonight, only three days into this, the problem is that while scientists delivered us the vaccine, the actual literal delivery of the vaccine, the movement of the vaccine to us, that part of it has to be managed not just by science and scientists. that part has to be managed by the federal government, which is still run by the trump administration. and now there is trouble with that. the first signs of it were yesterday. bloomberg news headlined it late yesterday as the first snags in the delivery of the vaccine. that was in response to the trump administration announcing
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yesterday, without explaining it, that for some reason, although pfizer shipped 2.9 million doses of the vaccine this week, next week, that will drop. they're only going to ship 2 million doses next week. why is that? they really wouldn't say substantively. the only explanation given from the trump administration was from alex azar, the perpetually seemingly annoyed, peeved, combative trump administration health secretary, who said sort of off the cuff, without any elaboration, that pfizer, the company that makes the vaccine, was, quote, coming up short. that's a big deal. there's a problem with pfizer? they're not able to make the vaccine they said they could? you're the health secretary of united states of america in the middle of a pandemic when we were in the first days of rolling out a vaccine, and you just say they're coming up short, but you don't want to talk about it? that's a really serious thing to say. is that really true? is there some problem with pfizer and their production of the vaccine? apparently there's no problem. of course what alex azar said isn't true.
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if we haven't learned that lesson after four years with these people, we never will. look at this. pfizer put out this statement in response. if you hear the hair on the back of my neck standing up, it's because i have feelings about this. pfizer incorporated today released the following statement to address public comments that allege there are issues in the production and distribution of the company's covid-19 vaccine. pfizer is not having any production issues with our covid-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed. this week we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the u.s. government to the locations specified by them. we have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse, but as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses. we have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse, but we get shipment directions from the u.s. government, and they haven't given us any shipment instructions for what we should do with the millions of doses
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that we have just sitting here. more than 3,000 americans are dying every day now, and the vaccine that keeps people from dying from this thing is piled up in a warehouse. and that's per the company that makes it, so they're in a position to know. and they say the reason their doses of vaccine are piled up in a warehouse is because the government won't tell them where they want these doses shipped, and they have no idea why the government isn't telling them that. they're ready to go. and what's actually happening around the country now is this, and we've pulled together these reports from all over the country because we started noticing them coming in this morning. but then it started to feel just
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like a cascade today, starting in one state here, what felt like a problem with that one state. maybe it's two states. wait, that's a state in the different part of the country. we just watched these come in one after the other, and it is starting to feel like this is maybe everywhere now. look, "the des moines register." quote, iowa will receive less covid-19 vaccine than anticipated. the state was expecting, in fact they had publicly announced they'd be getting 172,000 vaccine doses by the end of december. they now say they've been told they'll get 30% less than that, so do the math. that means 50,000 doses that aren't coming. 50,000 people who are not getting the shot in iowa. in a press release, the iowa department of public health made clear they were told that by the federal government. it was the federal government that told them, hey, iowa, what you thought you were getting, it's going to be 30% less. then it was "the boston globe" reporting on rhode island. rhode island getting, quote, far less vaccine than expected next week. quote, with 36% fewer doses on the way, rhode island governor gina reymundo calls on the trump administration to honor its commitments and provide the full allocation. in rhode island, they were previously told they'd get 10,725 doses next week. now instead, inexplicably,
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they're going to get less than 7,000. all those thousands of people that aren't going to get inoculated. in michigan, 30% fewer doses than they expected. they thought they'd get 84,000 people shots next week. sorry. 24,000 of those, you're not getting your shot. they're not coming. the doses aren't arriving. i mean who are you going to tell first who thought they were getting one next week and now isn't going to get one? then kansas, 37% cut in what they were told they were getting. they were told to plan for 28,000 pfizer vaccinations next week. now it will have to be less than 18,000 because for some reason, that's all that's coming. same in missouri. the governor said he's been told there will be a 25% to 30% cut in their vaccines. same in indiana, same in maryland. same in nebraska. same in new hampshire. same in montana. same in oregon. what's going on? in washington state, governor inslee explained it directly
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online as best he could. he said this. cdc has informed us that washington state's vaccine allocation will be cut by 40% next week and that all states are seeing similar cuts. this is disruptive and frustrating. we need accurate, predictable numbers to plan and ensure on the ground success. no explanation was given. staying in washington for a moment, the president of the washington state hospital association told "the seattle times" that when state officials got this news from the feds and then they, in turn, called the hospitals today to deliver the grim news, they explained to hospitals that this is what they've been told by the federal government, but they didn't know the reason why this is happening. the president of the washington state hospital association telling "the seattle times," quote, this is so disappointing and frustrating. it was a quick call. everyone wanted to cry or take a shot of tequila or something. nurses, doctors, house keepers, they want to know when they're going to get vaccinated, she said.
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but hospital leaders don't have the information they need to tell their employees when it's their turn in line. quote, we thought it was coming. now we're thrown into uncertainty, she said, adding that the state department of health had made some allocation decisions for the vaccine that was due to come next week. she said, quote, i assume they're going to have to go back and rescind those offers that they've already made, which is going to be, in her words, tough, tough, tough. but why is this happening? again, we're not like deep into this process. this is week one. why is this happening? pfizer says it made all its targets. it has millions of doses on the shelves. they have no production problems. they have no supply line problems. pfizer says they just need the u.s. government to say where to send the doses that they've got. the government is making these mealy, unsourced allegations that there's some problem on pfizer's end, but they won't say what it was other than casting vague aspersions at pfizer, and
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the company says they're lying with what they're implying there. nevertheless trump administration officials are calling all the states now, or at least a lot of the states and telling them, yeah, 30% to 40% of the vaccine doses you were expecting next week, we're cutting those. you're not getting them. here was governor j.b. pritzker in illinois today, asked about it by reporters with honestly no way to explain what's happening here. >> have you learned anything more than the folks at pfizer are saying it's not on their end? >> they have not provided us with any information, the federal government. you know, we get to see what the order book can look like for us for the coming week, and they haven't given us any explanation of why those numbers are smaller than they were before. >> no explanation of why the numbers are suddenly dramatically smaller than they were before. no explanation. just tens of thousands of americans who might not have to die being put at inexplicable risk of it while vaccine that's
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good to go sits on the shelves with nowhere to go because the federal government won't tell the company that makes and stores that vaccine where they should ship it. and the federal government can't or won't say what's going on and why they're doing that. "the washington post" today had good, aggressive reporting on this, and they got this today from the pfizer side, which is one of the more unnerving things i've read in a few days. according to "the washington post," quote, a person involved in the planning, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discussion the situation, said pfizer executives are baffled that the administration is not immediately distributing all of its vaccine, instead leaving much of it on the shelves. it really seems like this is not some sort of fight between pfizer and the government, some sort of negotiation that's fallen through, and this is some hardball tactic. it really seems like pfizer's
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ready to send the vaccine, and the u.s. government won't tell them where to ship it. pfizer executives are baffled that the administration is not immediately distributing all of its vaccine. instead, leaving much of it on the shelves. baffled. i have other adjectives i would like to add to that. joining us now is yasmeen abutaleb, a health policy reporter for "the washington post." she was one of the reporters on that front page story about scientists delivering vaccines in record time. and she and her colleagues were among the first to report today on these unforeseen problems with the vaccine shipments. thank you so much for being here tonight. congratulations for your groundbreaking work on this important story. >> thank you so much. >> so i've read your reporting carefully. there's some other national reporting on this tonight, including at "the new york times." we watched bloomberg starting to report on this yesterday, but
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more than that, i've been looking at all the local coverage in all of the states, where all these officials, red states and blue states, they all seem equally baffled. they all seem to be upset, but nobody seems to have a theory or an explanation as to what's going on. from your reporting, have you and your colleagues been able to figure out what the problem might actually be here? >> unfortunately we haven't been able to get a clear explanation on why these states started getting notices that they were going to get significantly less of pfizer's vaccine next week. you saw the finger pointing playing out today where initially the trump administration said there was an issue with pfizer's supply problem. pfizer then said they were having no production issues and no supply problems and they had the millions of doses sitting in warehouses ready to go. and when we spoke to several states today, they confirmed they saw significantly reduced allocations for next week, but then referred us to the federal government for why that had dropped so suddenly. >> it's very -- i mean it's -- i apologize because i'm having emotions about this because i feel like this is exactly the
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wrong kind of problem that you want to have life and death consequences, right? if this is a problem that is an inexplicable hitch that is not actually a supply chain problem, that is not even some sort of snafu in terms of trying to get things delivered at the same time people are delivering holiday packages and the post office is screwed up, it doesn't seem to be a logistical problem. it seems to be something that's gone wrong in the federal government. if we take pfizer's assessment of what's going on, that's where the problem seems to be. but to not have alex azar able to explain that and to have state officials saying they heard this from cdc officials, but the cdc officials who called them had no explanation for it before, to me, i feel like that's at least where the bull's-eye is. that seems to be where the problem is happening. but is it that clear to you as well, or do you think it is possible that it might be a pfizer problem? >> well, if you take pfizer's statement today, they're saying they have no problems.
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and, you know, federal health officials told us that the reason there were millions of pfizer doses in the warehouses was because they were reserving them to give health care workers and nursing home residents the second shot in the two-shot regimen. but then when we spoke with people familiar with the supply issue, they said, no, there are actually millions of doses that don't account for that second shot in the two-dose regimen. so i think it's still very confusing what the issue is. it's obviously devastating for people who thought they were going to get the vaccine next week or at a certain time. and the other thing that we noted in our story today is, you know, health care workers, nursing home residents and long-term care residents and the employees in those facilities are in this phase 1a group. this raises questions about when some states are going to be able to start vaccinating nursing home and long-term care residents. >> right. this sort of second tier
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priority, that next group in line who was expecting to sort of get the first round of the next tranche of virus. my last question is also born out of my frustration here, but this -- whatever is going on here seems to have sort of emerged over the past 24 hours. we got those comments from alex azar about there being something wrong at pfizer. we got the response from pfizer saying there's nothing wrong. we started hearing from all the states that they've been notified by the federal government that their allocation was getting cut. as you have followed this story, have you had any sense that what's emerging here now is now a national news story about something going wrong is forcing this toward a solution, that whatever the problem is, is getting worked out? is there any sort of scramble that you can detect to try to fix whatever the snafu may be here? >> well, the problem is there's not a lot of acknowledgement of a snafu yet on the part of the federal government. pfizer is saying there's no issue on their end. now there will be moderna's vaccine as part of the supply starting next week. but i do think it's eventually going to force more transparency about the issues.
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you know, there have been a lot of promises that distribution would go smoothly, that the government was ready to carry it out. but i think what we're seeing, since this is just the first days of distribution, is that this is a hugely complicated task, one of the biggest vaccine distribution efforts in the country, if not the biggest one ever. and it's extraordinarily complicated, and there are going to be hiccups. you can't promise that it's going to go smoothly and you're going to meet all your targets. i think we've seen that very clearly in the first couple of days. and the issue that was raised to me today in some interviews is these are the easiest vaccinations to carry out for health care workers and -- because they're all in the same facility. it's easier to monitor. it gets much more complicated when you get into the general population. so there are clearly a lot of issues that need to be worked out as this progresses. >> that's exactly right, and i think that's a very, very important point. that this is the easy part. a, it's week one, and so it's
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not like we've got any compounding problems in terms of the way that the vaccine has gotten out there. and this is going to institutions who have been prepped to know they were going to be first in line or second in line. they've been ready to receive it. they're capable of dealing with it. this is the low-hanging fruit in terms of getting vaccine out there. and if we've already got it sitting on shelves with nowhere to go and the federal government chasing its tail, not even explaining that there's a problem here, i am -- i am wound up. yasmeen abutaleb, thank you for helping us understand this. i look forward to you and your colleagues' continued reporting on this. thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> she's a health reporter at "the washington post." sorry i'm mad. all right. we've got some surprising and perhaps encouraging data tonight on the political side of things. that's coming up next. stay with us. your lips have a . ...and unique needs. your lips are like no others and need a lip routine that's just right for you.
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it was just a couple of days ago that president-elect joe biden went down to georgia to do a big rally for jon ossoff and raphael warnock, the democratic senate candidates in georgia who are running in those crucial senate elections. but now there is a new ad that
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just went up on the air in georgia today that really does not look like a normal political ad, or at least a traditional one. it almost looks like more of a national address, or i guess maybe a state address because it's in georgia, from president-elect joe biden. i've never seen anything like this run as a political ad before. it's also unusual because it is for two candidates at the same time. watch this. ♪ >> georgia, i know things are tough right now, but i want you to know help is on the way. my administration is preparing to beat covid-19 and get economic relief to the american people. on day one as your president, i'm prepared to sign a covid relief package that fully funds the public health response needed, led by georgia's own cdc. it will ensure free testing and vaccination for every american, and we'll get small businesses the assistance they need right now. let me be clear.
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i need raphael warnock and jon ossoff in the united states senate to get this done. there are folks in congress threatening to do everything in their power to block our effort. we need you to get out there and vote for jon ossoff and raphael warnock. we need them in the senate. god bless america, and may god protect our troops. >> i'm raphael warnock. >> and i'm jon ossoff. >> and we approve this message. >> the way he signed off there, god bless america, and may god protect our troops, that's the way that biden finishes all of his speeches, and this is a political ad, but it's this almost presidential address style, this straight to camera explanation from the president-elect trying to convey the importance of the democrats winning these two senate races. and biden's argument is pretty unassailable here. he probably isn't going to get a single thing done in terms of legislation and major policy unless the democrats take control of the senate. and the only way they can do
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that is with these two senate runoffs in georgia. i mean in the house, the democratic majority in next month's new congress seems to get slimmer every day. with biden having previously tapped two house democrats for administration jobs, house speaker nancy pelosi was already looking at a majority of only a couple of seats. now biden has picked new mexico congresswoman deb haaland for interior secretary. democrats are going to have to hold on to that seat too if she's confirmed to the cabinet. so democratic control of congress is going to be incredibly narrow either way. but whether it's mitch mcconnell in charge or chuck schumer in charge of the united states senate is going to make an entire world's worth of difference as to whether or not biden and harris can actually do anything in terms of policy, even in terms of just getting the president-elect's cabinet confirmed. it's going to make all the difference in the world. to that point, there is interesting new data out of georgia, which to my eye is data that is good news on its face,
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just for us as a country, for democracy, for civics, for us staying a republic despite our current challenges. but it may have real political implications too. here it is. the first day of early voting for those senate races was this week on monday, and it looked on the surface like there were gigantic numbers in terms of turnout for the first day of early voting. the first day of early voting for these senate runoffs this week was even larger -- the turnout was bigger than the voting was at the first day of early voting in the general election. like the november election, the presidential election. now, people cautioned that you shouldn't read too much into that because when it came to the general election, it turns out the first day of early voting this year fell on a holiday, so not all polling sites were open, so you can't really do an exact comparison. okay. that's fine.
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but now we have numbers for three straight days of early voting for those georgia senate races, and it turns out for each of those days, the numbers of people turning out to vote in those senate races are larger than the numbers of people who turned out for the general election in november, which is nuts. that doesn't happen for special elections and runoff elections, right? a runoff senate election in the first week of january outpacing voter turnout for a presidential election? that is basically unheard of. and if you believe in the long-standing theory that democrats tend to do well when voter turnout goes up, well, that is raising democratic hopes about the prospect of winning the warnock and ossoff races. that said, the question of what democrats can do in congress is first a matter of numbers. but the very close second is a matter of strategy. it's numbers and strategy, and as the congress that we have right now moves toward a covid relief bill, the political strategy in congress, particularly among the democrats, is starting to get fascinating and super
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interesting -- fascinating and super aggressive, excuse me. we've got one of the people who's sort of been pushing the envelope in terms of democratic strategy within the democratic party joining us next for what i promise you will be a thought-provoking discussion. stay with us. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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so we're still waiting for any actual language to see what's going to be in the covid relief bill that's being hashed out in congress. as of tonight, what we know is that it's like $900 billion. it's expected to include new relief money for small businesses. it's expected to include funding to states to run vaccination efforts. the bill would also reportedly reinstate a federal unemployment benefit, which means the federal government would basically add extra money to your unemployment check. the bill will reportedly extend the moratorium on evictions, which is critical, and it will reportedly include some direct cash payments to eligible americans.
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now, because this covid bill is being tied to the package that funds the whole government, there is a deadline to get a deal passed, and it is soon. it is tomorrow at midnight. house speaker nancy pelosi said negotiations made progress today. the republican leader, mitch mcconnell, also said a deal appears close at hand. but he also warned senators they might be working through the weekend to get this finalized. watching these negotiations, watching negotiations between the two parties, between the two houses and within each party, within each house, has been fascinating not just in terms of what we're going to get in terms of this covid bill, but what we should expect for dynamics within the democratic party and how democrats are going to fight republicans in the biden/harris era. joining us now is our friend ezra levin. he's the co-founder of the activist group indivisible, which has lately been lobbying to try to make this bill as progressive as possible. they've been lobbying for the bill to put more money into the pockets of the most struggling
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americans. ezra, it's nice to see you. thank you so much for being here. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> so four years ago, you and i were having long, very thought-provoking conversations on television about what democrats would do strategically in congress in the trump era and how they would basically try to hold on to as much -- hold on to as many of their principles as possibility but also hold the line in terms of policy negotiations in a way that was the most strategically sound way to approach it. tell me how you are thinking about democrats right now as we head toward the biden era, while they're working on something really concrete like this covid bill. >> right. so this is the last gasp of the trump era, right? this is what we're experiencing right now. so how we got to this stage of covid relief negotiations is -- you know, the democratic-controlled house passed significant covid relief nearly nine months ago, nine months ago. and mitch mcconnell and the gop in the senate for month after month after month refused to
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move on any of it. they just said we're not going to do any of this. they pushed it until after the election. so that's why we're negotiating right now. but if you'll allow me, i want to nerd out with you congressionally. i think this is important because there's something really exciting happening right now in these negotiations, and it's flying a little bit under the radar. but it's very important, as you said, both for the actual covid relief that passes now, but also for what congressional policymaking looks like in the biden era. and here's how this has gone down. so there are these negotiations taking place at a high level in congress, and leaders are trying to hammer out a deal. as of last month, they had hammered out some contours of a deal that didn't include any direct payments. it included some of the other things you talked about, but no additional checks. so that was off the table, and here's what occurred. it's incredible. the congressional progressive caucus, which is led by representative pramila jayapal, it is a newly empowered congress. just last month they passed new rules for that caucus that allow
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it to wield power in a way it never has before. it basically allows it to say, this is a line in the sand for us as a caucus, and we're not going to accept bills that don't include what we want. and in this case, what they said they wanted was direct payments. they started whipping -- they started whipping their members and saying, are you going to vote for this? okay. great. we're aligned. we're going to fight for direct payments. and days later, it was revealed that now negotiations are including direct payments. that is progressive power being wielded in the house in a way honestly since i've been following congress hasn't been done. and so, yes, this is important for the covid negotiations right now, but it's also really exciting because it's a sign of what could come in the early months of the biden administration as well. >> ezra, what's the size of the congressional progressive caucus, and what do you expect the size of that to be in the congress that's going to be
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sworn in, in january? and does that -- does that numerical value affect whether that kind of tactic that you just described there can potentially be determinative in terms of democratic stances on important legislation? >> it absolutely can. there are dozens of members of the congressional progressive caucus, and remember the house democratic majority headed into next year, just about 10 or 11 votes. that means they've really got to hold their caucus together to pass things. and this is what gives the congressional progressive caucus new power to vote as a bloc. it's what gives them power. the house is a majoritarian institution. if you got the votes, you've got power. if you don't have the votes, you don't have power. now because of the slim majority the democrats have and because of the new reforms to the progressive congressional caucus, the progressives have power and it's exciting to see them wield it in this moment. >> ezra, in terms of what we're going to expect, so shortening the horizon right now, we are expecting this covid bill. it's either going to be tomorrow if they can get the government funded, or there's going to be some sort of stopgap and it may
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happen over the weekend. what do you think that americans should expect in terms of that unemployment boost, so many millions of americans out of work right now, and also in terms of that direct payment? do you have a sense of where they're going to land in terms of that number. >> i think it's in flux right now. that's scary also but should be encouraging because everybody watching this has some power. government funding runs out in about a day. they sometimes pull a trick where they allow it to run out of funding over the weekend, but they still negotiate. i would expect a package to come together by the end of the weekend, and we'd see a vote maybe as soon as the very beginning of next week to pass this through. it could come earlier, as you said. it could come as soon as tomorrow. but right now it's in flux. they're trying to decide what's included. so if there's one thing you can do right now, you've got one representative and two senators. i don't care if your representative is aoc or josh gottheimer. i don't care if it's elizabeth warren or bernie sanders. call them. let them know that you want two
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things in this package. you want expanded unemployment insurance, and you want direct payments. any bill that does not include that isn't a real covid relief bill. so they are listening to you right now. you have a limited window of opportunity. their offices are open tomorrow. call and make that ask. >> ezra levin, the co-founder of indivisible, always thought-provoking, always good insight to talk to you, my friend. thank you for being here. i appreciate it. >> great talking. >> all right. we've got more news to get to tonight. stay with us. ay with us [doorbell chimes] cheers. i win again, patrick. that's siiir patrick. oooooow. sir.
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carolyn maloney is chair of the oversight committee. she got to ask a single question today that has been on the mind of millions of american families, also a question that dozens of state attorneys general have been wanting to ask in court. but she was finally able to ask it today, and she got the answer under oath. >> will you apologize for the role you played in the opioid
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crisis? >> i have struggled with that question. i have asked myself over many years. i have tried to figure out was -- is there anything that i could have done differently knowing what i knew then, not what i know now, and i have to say i can't -- there's nothing that i can find that i would have done differently. >> nothing i can find that i would have done differently. that's the former vice president and member of the board of directors of perdue pharma for nearly three decades saying she would not take any responsibility for the role she and her family in fueling the opioid crisis. the family behind perdue pharma which makes the megaopioid oxy conten haven't testified in
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decades over their role in falsely marketing oxycontin in a way that led to all of those deaths. but after being compelled subpoenas they did get two members of the family who served on perdue's board and the current ceo of perdue to testify before congress. members of the sackler family of course have not been held personally or criminally accountable in what perdue did even though it twice had to plead guilty to the justice department. it was less than two weeks before the election when the justice department announced a historic settlement with perdue pharma. the settlement was historic but it was not that big a deal for purdue. for example, it did not require the sacklers to admit to any wrongdoing at all. the civil fine they were forced to pay amounted to pennies on the dollar of the family's overall fortune which is notable
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considering the fact the family appears to have siphoned over $10 billion out of purdue as the company was facing mounting legal pressure. today members of congress on both sides of the aisle took this rare opportunity to just escoriate them including this emotional moment from massachusetts congresswoman iyonna pressley. >> you have created a nationwide epidemic, 450,000 people have died. let me be clear people struggling with addiction are not criminals. your family and purdue pharma, you are the criminals. you are the ones who disregard your duties to society, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. >> congresswoman ayanna pressley of massachusetts. the sacklers are in court right now as purdue goes through bankruptcy proceedings. the reason that's important right now is we may learn as early as tomorrow a lot more about all the money the sackler
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family socked away out of purdue. specifically where they've moved the money and when and how. we're expecting a trove of documents in that court case to get unsealed tomorrow. so after this groundbreaking testimony today things could get very interesting in terms of what we learn they did with the money tomorrow. watch this space. ney tomorrow watch this space students of color typically do not have access to high quality computer science and stem education. ♪ i joined amazon because i wanted to change education and i am impatient.
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this year's bill even includes a provision that would push the pentagon to buy body armor designed for female troops which is nice thought. this year the military funding bill has been on president trump's desk since december 11th, last friday when the senate passed it by an overwhelming margin. but president trump has been threatening since before it passed he was going to veto it. first he said he didn't want the military to rename bases currently named after confederates. then he changed his mind and said actually he's going to veto it because he wants congress to go after social media companies which has nothing to do with the military. and he changed his mind again and now he's going to veto it because china is so terrible which is an odd objection to a military funding bill which funds countering the chinese navy. what is his end game here? the military funding bill is very popular. it passed the senate with 84 votes, passed the house with 335
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votes. in a year when nobody agrees on anything with margins that big the president has to worry about the fact if he does veto this thing, it looks like there's plenty of enough votes to override his veto. he has until next week, until december 23rd to make a decision. if he vetoes it and gets overridden he's going to look weak. if he doesn't veto it after all these threats to veto it, he's going to look weak in a different way. when's he going to do this to afford maximum chance of heightening the fact he's going to do this in a way that's going to make him look terrible either way? watch this space. i'll see you again tomorrow. now it's time for the "last word" where ali velshi is in for lawrence. >> watch this space indeed. i almost wonder whether president trump did have somebody do the math for him or understand how this veto thing works, because you have clearly outlined how this is going to go
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down in a way that's not going to end up with december 24th looking good for president trump. my last few days on the job i'm going to coast and take it easy. you have a nice night, rachel. >> thank you, ali. appreciate it. 7 7,600,412. the gop, which has embraced trump more deeply and fervently than a party has ever embraced a candidate is refusing to examine what went wrong. politico reports that the gop will actually forgo its traditional postmortem, something that generally happens when you lose, because trump continues his sorcery over the republicans with the message that things could hardly be better for the party that lost control of the white house. mostly because he is carrying on the charade that they didn't actually lose the white house. one republican party chair in ch

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